Great achievements are not possible without the drive and vision of great leaders. They are the agents of change and the innovators looking to the possibilities of tomorrow. The following section highlights a number of great leaders in the renewable energy sector. In an industry focused on developing more sustainable sources of growth for the future of energy development, the following individuals personify the forward-thinking spirit required to enact change.
Leadership in Technology
James G.P. Dehlsen
James Dehlsen is a leader in wind power and renewable energy. In 1980, he founded Zond Corporation, a pioneer in wind power technology, where he served as CEO and chairman of the board. Zond, now under ownership of GE, rapidly grew to become one of the largest global companies in wind turbine manufacturing, wind power project development and plant operation.
In 2001, Dehlsen and his son, Brent, established Clipper Wind Power Inc., where they worked in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop their fourth generation machine, the 2.5-MW Liberty wind turbine. The Liberty, which features advanced drive train and controls design, is now in use in eighteen projects across the U.S. and Mexico. This achievement makes Clipper one of the leading green industrial start-ups of the twenty-first century.
Recognition for Dehlsen’s work in the wind industry include the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Wind Energy Association; induction into the Environmental Hall of Fame; and the Danish Medal of Honor. He has served as an advisor to the Department of Energy's Wind Program; testified at the first U.S. Senate hearings on global warming; served as a delegate to the Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan; and was an active member of the American Wind Energy Association and Worldwatch Institute boards of directors. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame as “Father of Wind Energy in the U.S.”
Dr. Rohatgi is the founder and CTO for Suniva, a manufacturer of high efficiency monocrystalline silicone solar cells. He is also a Regents' Professor and a Georgia Power Distinguished Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), where he has taught since 1985. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading research scientists in photovoltaic technology, and is the founding director of the University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP) at Georgia Tech.
With Dr. Rohatgi at the helm, Suniva has accomplished several industry firsts in manufacturing, technology, research, and development. Some of these accomplishments include: the fastest ramp-up to 100MW production in the industry; the raising of $130 million in capital following the formation of Suniva in 2007; the successful production of cell efficiencies exceeding 18%; pilot production of cell efficiencies exceeding 18.5%, and R&D cell efficiencies exceeding 20%. Presently, Suniva is the highest cell efficiency producer in the U.S.
Dr.Rohatgi has received numerous awards for his breakthroughs in the solar cell field. Some of his most recent acknowledgments include being named "Champion of PV" by Renewable Energy World Magazine, 2010; Recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Achievement in Research Innovation Award; Envention Award by Atlanta Business Chronicle for conservation and pollution-curbing efforts, 2009; Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) award committee for outstanding educator and innovator in the field of photovoltaics , 2009.
Leadership in Policymaking and Legislation
Karl Gawell has been the executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association since 1997. Ever since, he has worked to build a renewed interest in geothermal power with policymakers, and throughout the business community.
Geothermal energy is an industry that requires a sizable and steady research and development fund, from both the government and the private sector. Due to the long lead-time for projects and the financial and technical risks associated with drilling new wells, 2010 was a challenging year for new development. But a strong push the Geothermal Energy Association, led by Gawell and other industry players, has seen a dramatic surge of new investment from the Department of Energy, and thus private firms as well.
Gawell has also served as the Director of Government Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association and was recently named the Chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee by the Secretary of Commerce to provide input on reaching U.S. competitiveness and export goals in renewables.
Van Jones is the co-founder of three successful non-profit organizations in human rights and clean energy: The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green for All, a national organization working to get green jobs to disadvantaged communities where he is the senior policy advisor. Jones is also the author of the definitive book on green industry jobs, titled The Green-Collar Economy.
Jones served as the green jobs advisor in the White House in 2009 and was the primary advocate of the Green Jobs Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2007. Under the Obama administration, the Act has resulted in $500 million for green job training nationally.
Jones’ work in championing for green jobs, as well as his work in human rights, has earned him several accolades. These include: one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2009, World Economic Forum’s designation of "Young Global Leader", and one of Essence Magazine's 25 most inspiring African Americans in 2008.
Rhone Resch is the President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). He has over 15 years in the public and private sector working in clean energy development and is responsible for all of the operational decisions of the SEIA, as well as implementing the industry’s strategic priorities. During the Clinton administration, Rhone served as Program Manager at the EPA's Climate Protection Division and has also been an active supporter of the U.S. Department of Energy's Environmental Management Program.
Rhone and the SEIA’s recent legislative successes include the 8-year extension and expansion of the investment tax credits for solar, creation of the DOE grant program and expansion of the loan guarantee program for renewable energy.
Leadership in Investment and Finance
Lynn Jurich and Edward Fenster, co-founders of SunRun, have been drivers behind the recent boom in the residential solar services sector. Founded in 2007, SunRun provides solar leases and power purchase agreements to small commercial and residential customers, allowing homeowners and small business owners to install solar without the complexity and high upfront cost solar power infamous for.
Since its inception, SunRun has expanded from California to Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and have risen over $380 million in funding to expand the company's services.
Jurich, president of SunRun, along with Fenster, CEO, were named Entrepreneurs of the Year by Ernst and Young in 2010. Jurich was also named one of Fortune Magazine’s Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs of 2009.
Lisa Frantzis is a Managing Director for Renewable and Distributed Energy at Navigant, a global consulting firm specializing in energy and healthcare. With over 30 years experience in managing extensive technical, market, and economic analyses of renewable energy systems, she is well respected for her depth of knowledge, and technical and strategic expertise. Frantzis works with policy makers, equipment manufacturers, oil companies, developers, utility companies, environmental groups, investors, and government agencies. This breadth of experience has led her to work at high levels of government agencies to understand the effectiveness of government policies for renewable energy. She has also been quoted in the New York Times, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Times and other key publications on renewable energy issues, as well as authoring several journal articles herself.
Frantzis is a member of the Board of Directors of the Solar Electric Power Association and a member of the American Wind Energy Association, is a past member of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Renewable Energy, and served as a Vice President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England.
Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, a partnership focused on sustainable investment. Gore is also the chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit focused on solutions to the climate crisis, where he focuses most of his energy.
He has authored several publications, including Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on Reason, and Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. Gore was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for "informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change."
With Generation Investment Management, Gore has implemented the unique investment approach that sustainability factors (economic, environmental, social, and governance criteria) will drive a firm’s returns over the long run. Generation Investment believes that companies who follow this approach will produce superior returns for shareholders. They will be better served by having their performance strategically managed in the new economic, social, and environmental context of sustainable development as the primary driver of industrial and economic change over the next 25 years.
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